RCS vs. SMS: Advantages and Differences

Cezarina Dinu August 23, 2023

Over the years, modern communication has seen significant growth courtesy of the adoption of messaging platforms. These platforms provide extensive features that make virtual conversations more flexible, convenient, and secure. 

We cannot also deny the roles of Rich Communication Services (RCS) and Short Messaging Services (SMS) in the evolution of virtual communication. They help businesses connect with their customer base around the globe via texting. However, they differ on many levels. 

Thus, as text messaging becomes pivotal in business communications, it is essential to understand the pros and cons of these messaging technologies to enable you to utilize them properly.

In this article, we will compare RCS to SMS and provide you with insights into selecting the best solution for your messaging needs. 

Evolution and impact on modern communication

SMS and RCS represent distinct chapters in the evolution of mobile communication. SMS, born in the 1980s, introduced the world to the convenience of text messaging over cellular networks. Its widespread adoption revolutionized how people communicate, becoming a staple feature of mobile devices globally.

However, as technology advanced, so did the expectations for richer messaging experiences. RCS, emerging in response to this demand, started taking shape in the mid-2000s. Unlike SMS, RCS aimed to transcend the boundaries of plain text, embracing multimedia content, interactive features, and enhanced user engagement.

Fast-forward to today's dynamic marketing landscape, where customer engagement is paramount. RCS has emerged as a progressive evolution from SMS, offering businesses an opportunity to elevate their advertising strategies. With features like multimedia sharing, interactive buttons, and typing indicators, RCS delivers a more immersive and engaging communication platform.

As businesses adapt to changing consumer preferences, RCS steps in as a natural progression. The recent trends in marketing underline the need for personalized and interactive experiences, precisely what RCS excels at providing. Its growing adoption by carriers and enterprises is a testament to its potential in driving superior customer engagement.

In essence, while SMS remains a fundamental and widely used communication tool, RCS shines as its modern counterpart, catering to the evolving needs of both businesses and consumers. It's a transition that reflects the ever-changing nature of technology and our constant quest for more meaningful connections in today’s digital age.

SMS vs RCS evolution

Advantages of SMS texting for business

  • Widely supported and accessible across all mobile devices: SMS serves as a versatile communication tool that doesn't discriminate based on technological prerequisites. It doesn't demand users to own smartphones or have access to advanced technology, making it an inclusive medium that can connect with users across iOS and Android devices, as well as dumbphones. This lack of technological barriers ensures that your communication strategy remains effective for diverse audiences, enhancing your reach and engagement.

  • No app dependency: Unlike RCS, which may require users to have a specific messaging app or device compatibility, SMS ensures a wider audience can receive your messages effortlessly. This accessibility eliminates the need for users to download additional applications, simplifying the communication process and ensuring your messages reach a broader range of recipients.

  • Reliable and established technology with high delivery rates: SMS boasts higher open rates compared to other forms of communication, ensuring your messages are more likely to be seen. The average open rate for SMS is 82%, while email open rates stand at 21%.

  • Cost-effective for users and businessesSMS marketing requires minimal business infrastructure and is often more affordable than traditional advertising methods.

With TextMagic, you can effortlessly launch your SMS campaigns without commiting to a monthly subscription right away. Notably, with our platform, you’re free from any set-up or account fees. You pay solely for the services you utilize, embracing a flexible pay-as-you-go pricing. This approach allows you to add and expend credit as per your discretion, ensuring you stay in complete control of your budget and campaign strategies.

Advantages of RCS messaging for business

  • Enhanced multimedia capabilities for richer communication: Instead of sending plain texts, you can grab recipients' attention with captivating videos, images, carousels, and other multimedia elements in their native messaging apps. 

  • Improved user experience with features like read receipts and typing indicators: In RCS, read receipts and typing indicators provide real-time feedback to you and recipients. This reduces uncertainty and propels you to improve your communication skills.

  • Seamless integration with other messaging apps: You can integrate AI chatbots into your RCS messaging strategy to enable users to have human-like conversations and receive timely responses to frequently asked questions. Similarly, you can integrate calendar apps for scheduling internal meetings or invoice apps for handling payments. 

  • Higher customer engagement: Given that there is no message limit, RCS messaging allows you to provide more engaging content, fostering better customer interactions and responses. Notably, Google's data indicates that brands leveraging RCS witness a remarkable 75% engagement rate, and an impressive 35% of individuals are more inclined to interact with RCS messages compared to email.

  • Advanced features like geolocation sharing and file transfers: With RCS messaging, you can send customers location data to inform them how to reach your nearest retail store or pick up their parcels. You can also send and receive files like payment receipts and product catalogs.  

Limitations of SMS texting

  • Character limitations and lack of multimedia support: SMS only permits 160 characters per message segment and doesn't allow multimedia sharing. This may result in minimal engagements and require you to split your message into multiple parts. Doing so can be confusing for recipients and expensive for you.

  • Limited interactive and engaging features: Being a text-only protocol, SMS has limited features to facilitate rich conversations. Users cannot convey their emotions and thoughts via voice recordings, stickers, GIFs, images, or videos. It also lacks advanced formatting features like bold, italics, and underlining for emphasizing texts. 

  • Inability to track message delivery and read receipts: SMS lacks in-built features like delivery and read receipts to enable users to ascertain the status of their messages in real-time. 

  • Reliance on mobile network infrastructure: With SMS, users have no control over the infrastructure of mobile networks. Thus, when the carrier network is overloaded, especially in populated areas or during peak hours, SMS messages may be delayed or not delivered at all, resulting in inconsistent communication. 

Limitations of RCS messaging

  • Limited adoption and compatibility across different devices and platforms: To enjoy RCS messaging, you and recipients must use RCS-enabled devices running on Android 5.0 or higher. Otherwise, you may be unable to contact customers via RCS. 

  • Potential costs and complexities associated with implementation: With RCS, you may have to purchase huge data plans or introduce complex structures to send bulk or multimedia messages. 

  • Dependence on Internet connectivity for full functionality: RCS messaging relies on Internet connectivity (via mobile data or WiFi) to access and transmit specific features. Consequently, it may not function optimally when there is low or no internet coverage. 

  • Lack of iOS devices support for RCS: Currently, iOS devices do not offer RCS messaging compatibility. This is due to Apple's promotion of iMessage as its version of RCS messaging, which functions exclusively within the Apple ecosystem and is not cross-platform compatible.

    Hence, text messaging between Android and iOS users is via SMS. This may limit your reach, as Apple has over 30% of the global smartphone market share, according to Oberlo. 

Choosing the right messaging protocol

To select a suitable messaging protocol for your business, consider the factors below to enable you to make an informed choice:

  • Purpose: Determine why you want to contact customers via text messages. Do you want to inform, educate, or promote a product or service? SMS might suffice if your reasons don't require multimedia features. Otherwise, RCS is your best bet. 

  • Audience considerations: Tailor your choice based on your audience's preferences and technological landscape. Assess factors beyond device types, such as optimal timing for messaging, preferred content, frequency of engagement, and receptiveness to promotions. Conduct surveys or polls across various communication channels to gain insights that guide your strategic decisions.

  • Budget: Factor in your financial considerations while selecting the right platform. SMS presents a budget-friendly choice, allowing you to communicate effectively without straining your resources. While RCS messaging offers potential for increased ROI, SMS ensures a reliable and cost-efficient way to connect with your audience.

  • Technical requirements for implementation: Assess your team's capabilities and technological resources when integrating your chosen messaging protocol. This step ensures seamless adoption and utilization.

Furthermore, considering the advantages of online text messaging, platforms like TextMagic offer user-friendly interfaces and comprehensive support, empowering your business communication with efficiency and innovation.

Make sure you check the table below table for more factors to consider when comparing RCS and SMS:

RCS vs SMS comparison by TextMagic


Due to its longevity and effectiveness, SMS will undoubtedly remain evergreen for businesses of all sizes. Conversely, RCS is gaining traction in the business and telecommunications ecosystems. 

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, both RCS and SMS will play significant roles in shaping the way we connect, communicate, and engage with one another. 

Understanding their strengths and limitations is essential for making informed decisions that align with your communication goals. Whether you opt for the simplicity of SMS or the sophistication of RCS, both technologies have established their presence and contribute to the dynamic and interconnected world of messaging.

So, whatever your choice may be, ensure it tallies with your business needs and enables you to remain competitive in the market.

Ready to elevate your messaging strategy?
Try TextMagic today!

Cezarina Dinu

Cezarina is a Content Marketing Manager within TextMagic where she passionately blends her expertise in content marketing, UX, and data analysis to craft engaging campaigns and drive impactful results. With a keen eye for SEO strategies, she focuses on optimizing content for maximum visibility and audience reach.

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